Image may contain: food

Nothing puts me in a bad mood more than a mediocre meathouse meal. Especially at Wynn/Encore prices. Especially in a town crawling with great steakhouses. But that’s what I got recently at the much ballyhooed SW Steakhouse – a place that packs them in and rolls them out with the efficiency of a stockyard leading its victims to slaughter.

And slaughtered is what you’ll feel like after a meal here.

The vaunted chili rubbed rib-eye (our reason for coming here) was heat free, and the way it’s served — hacked up and thrown into a pan with an oversized, under-cooked onion — was about as artful as corned beef hash. That humongous onion serves a purpose, though, it covers a lot of territory in that pan, distracting you from how little meat you’re getting for your $125. The crab cake was even worse: deep-fried, stringy and dry, like something you’d get at a third string steakhouse, not the flagship of a major hotel. The chefs sent out a complimentary slab of salt containing strips of A-5 wagyu (top left in photo) — a nice gesture if any of them had known how to cook it. It was overcooked to chewy, thereby becoming the world’s priciest beef jerky. (A steakhouse that can’t cook wagyu is like a concert pianist who can’t find middle C.)

Our beet dish was as bland and basic as any out there — cooked beets, undisguised, and unseasoned with anything but good intentions, then formed into a block with a little cheese on top. Other chefs try to hide or play off the dirty (tasting) essence of the root. Here, they expect you to be dazzled by the presentation and pay your $12 without complaint.

A shallow dish of prettified foie gras custard (top right) was nice, but it’s really saying something when the bread basket is the highlight of a meal.

Dessert was a melting chocolate ball, dissolved by a rich, bittersweet sauce, revealing a ball of ice cream in the middle. I’m sure it elicits ohs and ahs from the conventioneers and others paying with someone else’s money.

Service was top notch, as it always is in Wynn restaurants. They also upgraded the dining room a while back so it no longer looks like a bus station, so there’s that.

The wine list is a cruel joke, and best viewed with your accountant, a mortgage banker, and a defibrillator on hand.

Our meal for two, including two bottles of wine (both around $100 and two of the cheapest on the list) came to $560. That’s a buck eighty a person for food (including tip) for those of you bad at math.

You have been warned.


Wynn Hotel and Casino

3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109




13 thoughts on “SW STEAKHOUSE Blues

  1. I’m curious John, have you ever worked in a restaurant? I think if you had you might understand the business a little better, maybe even have the right to leave such brutal comments. Stick to Law.

  2. Sounds frightfully similar to our experience at Sage last year. The only positives were the bread basket and the wine that I choose from an expensive list. No matter how many raves Sage gets, the tasting menus we were served were so underwhelming, I doubt we’ll ever return.

    As to Mr. Dickerson’s post: If you have worked in the restaurant biz, you should know better than to expect customers to happy about spending $560 for dinner on anything less than an excellent meal. The food should be outstanding, as well as everything else. No lame excuses. I can’t imagine you’d be happy spending north of $500 on a lousy meal. I’ve done it. Didn’t like it.

  3. So, Mr Dickerson has declared that unless you WORK in a restaurant, you’re not allowed to comment on a restaurant. I guess I was confused. I didn’t realize that restaurants existed to only serve their compadres. All this time I thought they were trying to actually serve the general public. I’m so embarrassed…

  4. I’m not much of a meat eater anymore but I have dined in just about every steakhouse in Las Vegas (as well as dozens of “world famous” destinations around the country (Peter Luger, Berns, Gibsons, etc.). The only two that have EVER impressed me in Las Vegas are N9NE & Del Frisco’s . . . coincidentally, both are “off” the strip. I’m never surprised when restaurants in strip resorts underwhelm . . . they have a captive audience of convention goers who don’t seem to know or care about quality. I suppose they get what they deserve.

  5. ELV Responds: Why yes, Matt Dickerson, I have worked in the business – decades ago when restaurants weren’t built as overpriced tourist traps shaking down credulous conventioneers. But please feel free to educate me on the need for wine lists priced at 4xs retail, and $125 steaks not worth half as much.
    And what Big Bob said.

  6. ELV responds (further): And we’re always amused when we get the “stick to law” comment – a tepid, thoughtless insult that ignores (or is willfully ignorant of) how long I’ve been on this beat (22 years and counting).The business of running restaurants is your thing, Matt Dickerson, whether they’re delivering bang for the buck is mine. “Brutal comments”? At the prices Wynn charges? If anything I was being kind.

  7. John-

    First off, thanks so much for the revived book–that is truly the Las Vegas Eater Bible. Love the 2017 edition; will be trying Bardot and others around the Super Bowl.

    Of course it’s ridiculous to suggest what Matt does; the downside of Internet popularity is that it is troll bait. I have been reading your stuff for years, and your reviews to me have been spot-on almost always.

    I did not have a horrible experience at SW, but it was absolutely nothing special nor memorable. Good but not great or inventive food, insane wine prices, definitely not worth a return trip. I vehemently agree that Carnevino is the best steak place on the Strip, and I have tried most of them. StripSteak was surprisingly good, and Cut was really good too.

    Anyway, please keep doing precisely what you do sir. As someone who visits your city 2-3 times every year and has been to more than half of 2017’s top 50, I am one of the many who really appreciate and enjoy your majestic food knowledge as well as your erudite destruction of expensive mediocrity.

  8. ELV responds: A lively discussion thread is always appreciated. Many thanks to all for caring enough to write.

  9. Just yesterday, I made reservations at SW for an upcoming trip. I had a tough time choosing between this, Carnevino, and StripSteak. Looks like I may have to rethink my choice. If I’m going to have one meal this year that costs more than $200, I would expect more than what you’ve described.

  10. SW was such a delight years ago. Food was great and people watching was equally delicious. However, when the Wynn made David Walzog run both Lakeside and SW the writing was on the wall. There was no way the quality was going to remain as high as it was.

  11. Apologies for additional comment, the other thing that I noticed was that it does not appear they are using prime grade meat. What the Wynn, and other steak houses are doing nowadays is using the catch phrase “Prime CUT” beef. While some may say semantics, it’s a way to squeeze us, the consumer. The difference between prime and choice is significant. I could be wrong, but why would label the beef Prime Cut and not USDA Prime?

  12. ELV responds: No need to apologize. We love all comments…especially informative ones. Given who is now running things at Wynn F&B, nothing you say surprises us.

Comments are closed.